UPDATED: Three new statements from NBC News have been added to this story, regarding Rose McGowan, Emily Nestor and Ronan Farrow’s claim that his story was “cleared and deemed ‘reportable’ by legal and standards.”
On Tuesday’s edition of “Megyn Kelly Today,” host Megyn Kelly reported that Rose McGowan gave an on-the-record admission to Ronan Farrow at NBC News that Harvey Weinstein raped her, and NBC News sat on the scoop for months.
Returning to air after the long Labor Day weekend — which was anything but a quiet holiday weekend for NBC News, after multiple reports broke regarding the news organization’s handling of Farrow’s Harvey Weinstein reporting — Kelly told her viewers that McGowan and former producer Rich McHugh both claimed to her that McGowan went on the record and NBC News chose not to run the story.
“Late last night, Rose McGowan and Rich McHugh, the former NBC producer, both challenged that assertion, telling ‘Megyn Kelly Today’ that McGowan did go on the record with NBC in February 2017, after that on-camera interview with Farrow, and that she did name Harvey Weinstein as her rapist,” Kelly said on-air.
“There’s a lot to unpack,” Kelly continued during her broadcast. “What were seeing here is it McHugh… has now gone public with his accusations that NBC, he claims, blocked the story — NBC vehemently denying that, and saying they didn’t have anybody, they didn’t have anybody on the record…And Rose McGowan telling us that she was on the record for months and they didn’t use her statement. NBC saying if that’s true, it wasn’t communicated up the line. That’s a dispute between NBC and the reporters on the story, but this is getting really in the weeds and it’s getting really uncomfortable.”
Kelly’s broadcast comes as many journalists have had to cover their own news organizations throughout the Me Too movement, from Savannah Guthrie announcing that Matt Lauer had been fired on the “Today” show, to Gayle King announcing Charlie Rose’s misconduct on-air on “CBS This Morning.”
McGowan’s on-the-record admission occurred off-camera in February 2017. Then, in the summer of 2017, McGowan’s lawyers sent NBC a cease and desist letter revoking permission to use her original interview — indicating that NBC News had McGowan naming Weinstein as her attacker on the record, though off-camera, for five months.
Media outlets had previously reported that McGowan had spoken to NBC’s Farrow about Weinstein raping her and then retracted her interview after his lawyers started threatening her. But the length of time that NBC had a McGowan interview on the record, without running it, had been unclear.
“Regarding Rose McGowan, as the interview transcript clearly indicates, she did not name Weinstein as her attacker on camera in the February 2017 interview or any time after that,” an NBC spokesperson said to Variety in a statement.” The first time Farrow submitted a draft script on the Weinstein story was five months later, on July 23, 2017. If Farrow had McGowan naming Weinstein on the record but off-camera before that date, and wanted to proceed with airing a story, he did not submit one to his editors. The July 23draft script, for the first time, included a reference to McGowan naming Weinstein off camera ‘in subsequent conversations.’ (It also included several other assertions that quickly did not hold up to scrutiny, including some that were soon found to be contradicted by Farrow’s own interview transcripts,as described in the accompanying document.) Within days of that July 23 draft script being submitted, while Farrow attempted to get McGowan to name Weinstein on camera, she cancelled a follow up interview and her attorney sent NBC a cease and desist letter revoking all permission to use any material related to her.”
This past Friday, the New York Times and the Daily Beast both broke stories that NBC News had blocked Farrow’s Weinstein reporting with Farrow’s producer, Rich McHugh, blasting the organization, saying: “Is there anyone in the journalistic community who actually believes NBC didn’t breach its journalistic duty to continue reporting this story? Something else must have been going on.”
In response to McHugh’s claims, NBC News stated that any assertion that the organization tried to kill the story was an “outright lie.”
NBC News also stated that while Farrow believed his reporting was ready for air, “NBC disagreed because, unfortunately, he did not yet have a single victim of — or witness to — misconduct by Weinstein who was willing to be identified.”
Aside from McGowan confirming to “Megyn Kelly Today” that she had gone on the record, another one of Weinstein’s victims, Emily Nestor, said today that she had filmed an interview in silhouette and had tentatively offered to attach her name to the interview, but NBC was “not interested in this interview.”
An NBC News spokesperson tells Variety: “NBC News based its judgments on the draft scripts Farrow presented to editors in July and August of 2017 and all the raw notes and information he shared with his colleagues, including, significantly, the editorial review team. With regard to Emily Nestor’s statement, she is the anonymous victim of verbal sexual harassment’ referred to in the NBC News document and she was contacted during the editorial review process in mid-August by an investigative producer with two decades of experience. That producer took contemporaneous notes of their conversation and at no time then or since did Nestor tell her or NBC News she was willing to be named. NBC News of course respected and honored that decision.”
Nestor’s statement and Kelly’s broadcast come after NBC News chairman Andy Lack released a lengthy memo on Sunday, saying that Farrow’s story was not ready for air.
On Tuesday, in response to Variety‘s request for comment, an NBC News spokesperson stated: “Contrary to Farrow’s claims, his story was never cleared or approved for air by NBC News Legal or Standards. As is common practice, NBC lawyers met with him on several occasions to offer legal advice in connection with his reporting. But at no time did they render a judgment on the draft script’s readiness for air. While he was told by his editors that several elements of the draft script were technically ‘reportable,’ he was consistently advised that — even taken together — they were not yet sufficient to air a story alleging serial sexual abuse by Harvey Weinstein without at least one victim or witness on the record. Precisely because the script was never ready for air, no one in the NBC News Standards department ever reviewed it.”